Symphony of Sorrowful Songs 

Symphony No 3 Op. 36

Henryk Górecki (1933-2010)

Text from various traditional anonymous Polish texts, Helena Wanda Blanzusiakówna 

Conductor, Lidiya Yankovskaya 

Director and Designer, Isabella Bywater 

27 April – 6 May 2023 (6 Performances) 

Under 21s can get free opera tickets to all ENO performances at every level of the theatre, and 21-35 year olds can get discounted opera tickets. Tickets for everyone begin at £10. 

This April, closing the main stage season at the London Coliseum, the English National Opera (ENO) presents Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, the iconic poetic meditation on motherhood and loss. The composer’s most well-known work, it is one of the biggest selling contemporary classical pieces of all time, having sold more than a million copies since its first recording was released in 1992. 

Fifteen years after it was composed, this 1992 recording was released to commemorate the memory of those lost during the Holocaust. Following this release, Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs became a worldwide commercial and critical success. 

A symphony in three mournful and reflective moments, a single soprano voice paints a tryptic of motherhood; first a lament of the Virgin Mary, the second a message written on the wall of a concentration camp, and the third a mother searching for her lost son. This production is presented in its original Polish, with English subtitles, and marks the first time the ENO performs this critical sensation. 

The award-winning Isabella Bywater returns to the ENO to direct and design this unprecedented staged production of Górecki’s beloved work. Her directing successes include La bohème for San Diego Opera and Lucia di Lammermoor at Danish National Opera. As a designer, she is already known to ENO audiences of two of Jonathan Miller’s most iconic productions, La bohème and The Elixir of Love. 

Conducting the full force of the ENO Orchestra, which includes 72 world-class musicians, is Russian-American Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya who is making her ENO debut. A committed advocate for operatic rarities and contemporary works, her strength as a visionary collaborator has guided new perspectives on staged and symphonic repertoire. Yankovskaya is the Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater.

The ‘standout’ (Post Gazette Pittsburgh) and ‘superb’ (The Guardian) American soprano Nicole Chevalier makes her ENO debut starring in this solo operatic performance. Chevalier has recently performed leading roles in opera houses and festivals internationally, including Festival D’Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg Festival, Royal Opera House and Staatsoper Berlin.

Completing the creative team is Roberto Vitalini as the Video Designer, Jon Driscoll as the Lighting Designer, and Dan O’Neil as the Movement Director. 

This staging of Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is the ENO’s first production adhering to the Theatre Green Book. The costumes have been sourced from charity shop purchases with the ENO’s costume department buying second-hand clothes, supporting both the charity sector and investing in existing resources. 

Symphony of Sorrowful Songs opens on Thursday 27 April for 6 performances: Apr 27 and May 3, 5 at 19.30. Apr 29 at 19.00. Apr 29 and May 6 at 16.00. 

Tickets start from £10 (plus booking fee*)

*£2.25 booking fee applies to online and telephone bookings.

In partnership with The Adam Mickiewicz Institute, which is co-financed by the Minister of Culture & National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.